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The thought of surgery is scary enough, but the statistics are alarming. Although considerable attention has been given lately to methods of eliminating medical errors and enhancing patient safety, too many avoidable errors are still happening. Did you know

Surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week?

Nearly a fourth of all hospitalized patients will be harmed by a medical error?

Twenty to thirty percent of all medications, tests and procedures are unnecessary?

These statistics are from Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a developer of the surgical checklists adopted by the World Health Organization. Dr. Makary is also the author of “Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care.”

Why are the same preventable mistakes made over and over again? What other industry makes this many repeated errors? According to Dr. Makary, part of the problem is that doctors tend to overlook mistakes and incompetent doctors for fear of ramifications by turning in “Dr. Hodad.” Who is “Dr. Hodad” anyway? He is a well-known surgeon, but “Dr. Hodad” is his nickname; it stands for “Hands of Death and Destruction." According to Makary, many hospitals have at least one "Dr. Hodad" somewhere on staff.

Makary says that although hospitals may escape accountability, patients do not have to remain in the dark regarding medical care. He believes five crucial steps can make a significant impact in patient care.

Online Dashboards – Every hospital should have an online informational "dashboard" that includes its rates for infection, readmission, surgical complications and negligent mistakes such as leaving a surgical sponge inside a patient.

Safety Culture Scores – All healthcare providers must feel comfortable speaking up to avoid medical errors. Teamwork means increased safety.

Cameras – Reviewing tapes of surgeries and other procedures could be used for quality improvement. Video can also capture more than what may be provided in a patient’s medical chart.

Open Notes – Giving patients the opportunity to review notes taken by their doctor and the opportunity to comment. This helps improve communication and provide better care.

No More Gagging – Increase open communication to increase safety and protect patient rights.

Doctors and other healthcare providers hold people's lives in their hands every day. Most take that responsibility extremely seriously, but in cases of medical errors, the healthcare provider should be held accountable. To sum it up, hospitals need to take a huge leap towards patient safety. This includes every individual in the healthcare community. It is the culture that is a must, not just implementing procedures and strategies.

Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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